I’m Learning to Celebrate the Small Victories

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by Karen Del Vecchio |

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As I’ve mentioned in previous columns my shoulder is probably the most damaged joint in my body. When I was about 15, I dislocated it, broke my collarbone, tore my trapezius muscle, and damaged just about anything close to my shoulder joint. It’s been a long, painful road to even partial recovery from that awful injury. While I made good progress after my diagnosis with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), my shoulder still causes problems.

I hadn’t been diagnosed when the injury happened, so my initial recovery with standard rehab procedure didn’t come close to what is required for a patient with EDS. Since my diagnosis 10 years ago, I’ve found ways to help with the healing process. The most helpful have been massage and Pilates, modalities that I refer to frequently in my columns.

As a rather impatient person, I used to get frustrated by the slow progress I was making. I reached a point where I gave up on the idea that my shoulder would ever improve or be usable and pain-free (or at least pain-manageable). I started to make progress in physical therapy after my EDS diagnosis, but I would get frustrated by the pain caused by the exercises. I had spent my life training as an athlete, and I found it infuriating when I couldn’t complete exercises or had to ask for less resistance.

My attitude and positivity have evolved significantly since my diagnosis, which undoubtedly has played a role in my willingness to try new methods for improvement. It’s why I agreed to try Pilates. What has amazed me, however, is that now I get excited about the small victories when it comes to my shoulder.

Last week during my Pilates session, my instructor had me doing an exercise that worked my shoulder. I couldn’t do it at first, so we decreased the resistance to the lowest spring setting and I was able to do three deliberate, shaky repetitions. 

There was a time when that would have made me angry. I would have been upset that I couldn’t do it with the original setting. But now I was ecstatic. At least I was able to do it. I’ve learned to embrace the small victories, especially when it comes to facilitating the repair and maintenance of a badly damaged joint and its surrounding support structures.

This week, I’m hoping that instead of three reps, I can do four. Bring it on!


Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


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